Sign Language Interpreter-Mediated Qualitative Interview with Deaf Participants in Ghana: Some Methodological Reflections for Practice

Stephen Baffour ADJEI, Sarah SAM, Frank Owusu SEKYERE, Philip BOATENG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Qualitative research is adventurous and creative, and committed to understanding unique human experiences in specific cultural ecologies. Qualitative interviewing with Deaf participants is far more challenging for hearing researchers who do not understand sign language, and for this reason such interactions may require the use of a sign language interpreter to facilitate the interview process. However, the quality of sign language interpreter-mediated interactions is likely to be compromised due to omissions, oversights, misinterpretations or additions that may occur during translation. An unthoughtful and poor interpretation of a communicative event by a sign language interpreter during a qualitative interview with Deaf participants may lead to an imposition of the interpreter’s or the researcher’s realities on Deaf participants’ lived experiences. It is thus important that qualitative researchers who conduct sign language interpreter-mediated interviews with Deaf participants employ practical and flexible ways to enhance such interactions. To understand the everyday realities of Deaf people amid the Covid-19 pandemic in Ghana, and document same to inform policy and practice, we conducted qualitative interviews with Deaf participants in Ghana. In this article, we draw insights from our data collection experiences with Deaf participants in Ghana to offer some useful methodological reflections for minimizing omissions in sign language-mediated qualitative interviews and thereby enhancing qualitative data quality. We particularly discuss how qualitative researchers can use language flexibility and post-interview informal conversations with a sign language interpreter to create a natural non-formal interactional atmosphere that engenders natural conversational flow to minimize interpretation omissions and differential power relations in sign language interpreter-mediated qualitative interviews with Deaf participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-95
Number of pages21
JournalThe Qualitative Report
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Social Fund-ESF) through the Operational Programme «Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning» in the context of the project, “Strengthening Human Resources Research Potential via Doctorate Research” (MIS-5000432), implemented by the State Scholarships Foundation (ΙΚΥ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Nova Southeastern University. All rights reserved.


  • Qualitative interview
  • Deaf participants
  • interpreter mediated-communication
  • Sign language
  • language flexibility
  • interpretation omissions
  • Ghana
  • Interpretation omissions
  • Interpreter mediated-communication
  • Language flexibility


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